Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Favor of God was Upon Him

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Those who honor their father will have joy in their own children, and when they pray they are heard.  Those who respect their father will live a long life; those who obey the Lord honor their mother.  Sirach 3:5-6

And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.  Colossians 3:15

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.  The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.  Luke 2:39-40

We learn what's beautiful about relationship from family.  The first family of love is the Holy Family.  All family spirituality takes its beginning in the Holy Family.  We learn how to love one another by the very love of the parents with whom we grew up.  The beauty of love is that wherever there is love, God is there.  The way Mary loved Joseph and Joseph loved Mary gives us the love that Christ had as he grew up in the Holy Family.  Christ thought he knew his own way and discovered when he stayed behind in the Temple that his parents not only missed him but he learned that that was where he was meant to be.  Scripture tells us that he grew in wisdom and knowledge when he was with his parents for the next 18 years.  Christ tells us when he's told blessed is the womb that bore you and the breast that fed you.  Christ said blessed are those who hear the Word of God and live up to it.  The piety of family is spoken to our hearts through the relation of Jesus to his parents and his parents to him.   

Study is what we learn from our own parents and family about goodness.  Jesus and his personality grew out of these interchanges between himself and his mother and his foster father.  This made Jesus the way, the truth, and the life.  The greatest insights into family spirituality come from our own families but they're modeled by Mary and Jesus and Joseph.  The Holy Family gives us the dignity of family life.  A world that is growing sour on family has lost the divine connection to happiness.  Happiness flows out of belonging to others and being loved for who you are.  Many people are waiting for the genius of some profound insight and they don't appreciate that the ordinary family is divine revelation.  When we reflect on the moments we have been loved, out of those instants, divine revelation unfolds in our heart.  The beauty of who we are in God's love has its deepest meaning in how we are loved within our families. 

Family is where we put our minds and hearts to work if we want to share the graces of the Holy Family.  Love is not what another deserves but what we are free to give.  Family justice might well be whatever anyone has suffered for the sake of the ones they love for the family but true love begins where justice leaves off.  No one can force one to love but the richness of love is the free gift of our hearts for one another.  Christ says, "If you'll be my disciple take up your cross and come follow me."  No one lives in family without problems with one another.  Love is the carte-blanche, or blank sheet of paper, where we give others the chance to write the story of their hearts.  Love is the reality of our loving a person not just simply for who they are but even with their faults.  Love is the truth that we would never love anyone more if they got rid of their faults: we love them with their faults.  Love is the realization that we can only change ourselves and we cannot change the members of our family.  Once upon a time in my life, I asked my dad to apologize for not spending more time with me.  With tears in his eyes, he told me that I was worse than he, because I was trying to create a father to the image and likeness of what I thought a father should be.  He told me I was playing a God and challenged me to accept the dad I had if I wanted to have a father.  Jesus gives us the freedom to love as he loved and he won't love us more if we change.  He loves us for who we are.  Family love is the fullness of acceptance of who we are, not who we should be.  Family love gives us the freedom to be ourselves and is the richness of the spirituality of the Holy Family.

1 comment:

Mary Beth Harney said...

Beautiful! Thank you, Father!